Aerial and Splashs' Rowing Blog -- U.S. National Adaptive Rowing Team
2003 World Rowing Championchips, Milan Italy
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2003 Worlds/Milan

2003 World Rowing Championships, Milan Italy

2003 US National Adaptive Rowing Team Name Age Hometown Occupation Boat / team position Tom Hewitt 39 Voorhees, New Jersey Rutgers University freshman crew coach Coach Sandy Brown 33 Philadelphia Occupational Therapist Team Leader Aerial Gilbert 49 Petaluma, CA Director of Volunteers, Guide Dogs for the Blind Stroke seat, 4 with coxswain Jennifer Klapper 42 Philadelphia Psych Nurse Practitioner 3 seat, 4 with coxswain Dwayne Adams 43 Philadelphia Massage Therapist 2 seat, 4 with coxswain Jimmy Falls 44 Plymouth Meeting, PA Computer specialist Bow seat, 4 with coxswain Lisa Boron 39 Philadelphia Registered Nurse Coxswain, 4 with coxswain Hugh Gallagher 22 Philadelphia Alternate, 4 with coxswain Scott Brown 36 Philadelphia Human Resource Specialist Bow seat, Fixed seat Double Angela Madsen 43 Long Beach, CA Director CA Adaptive rowing program and US Rowing Level 3 coach Stroke seat, Fixed seat double Dale Doornek 38 Sultan, WA Supervisor Aircraft maintenance and repair Fixed seat single
 
JOURNAL ENTRIES (Well I bet you all thought I had forgotten to write, Between the time change from San Francisco to Philadelphia to the twice a day workouts, I have been too tired to do anything but eat and take care of Hedda. So I will re-cap the last few days and catch up.) Sunday August 3rd Hedda and I had a great flight to Philadelphia with an empty seat next to us so that Hedda could spread out on the floor. This was the longest flight she has taken, and she did a fantastic job sleeping at my feet, even during the bumpy spots. We left the house at 5:30 am, and arrived in Philadelphia at 5:30 pm (2:30 pm California time) making it 9 hours between relieving opportunities. She was very happy to use the parking garage as a pit stop. Jennifer met us at the airport, and as usual Hedda lead the way out leaving Jennifer in the dust. We went directly to Russell's apartment, where I had stayed last year. It was great to be back in a familiar environment this time with Hedda instead of the cane. Last year Russell had just moved in and the place was sparsly furnished, and now with the special touch of Natalia the apartment is beautifully decorated. Russell gave Jennifer and me a complete tour, including all of the potential booby traps and shin barkers. There is a wonderful waterfall on the wall in the living room which helps orientation. Arlo, Russell's German shepherd Guide Dog and Hedda became fast friends. Arlo was a little jealous since he thought I was exclusively his friend, as last year I lavished all my affections on him in the absence of Deanne. Russell and I made dinner together and had a chance to catch up. Am glad that no one was there to witness the two of us in the kitchen as we had a few mid-room collisions, and managed to spill an entire container of whipping cream all over the counter and floor. The dogs immediately jumped to our assistance to provide clean up duty , as we were hopelessly grabbing them to prevent upset stomachs. Dinner was great in spite of what would have been a sure winner on Americas Funniest Home Videos. Monday
 
August 4th: My alarm went off at 4:15am, which if you know me, would be sleeping in if I were on the west coast, but since I was on CA time 1:15 am was way too early! Isabel met me downstairs, and drove me to the boathouse for our first workout. It was already hot and humid (97%) We all introduced ourselves, and had a reunion with those of us who were on the team last year. Lisa, our coxswain, and the only one who is shorter than I, Dwayne who is visually impaired, and I were from the original 4 from last year. Jennifer, who is a below-the-knee amputee, is new this year, and has been rowing for 3 years, and our 4th seat is still being decided upon. Today we will be rowing with Hugh, who had rowed on a winning team in high school, and subsequently had a head injury. We also met our new coach, Tom Hewitt from Rutgers College. The familiar smells and sounds of the Penn AC boathouse was reassuring, and didn't present the same anxieties I felt last year. I felt at home with the boat, docks and routines. We quickly put all hands on the boat and carried her down to the water. I helped Hedda into the launch and got her comfortable, and left her with Sandy, Scott's wife and team manager and Tom. I was in the stroke seat (the position that sets the pace for the boat, which everyone else follows). Behind me was Dwayne, then Jennifer, and Hugh in the bow, which was my position last year. Behind Hugh was our coxswain Lisa. We pushed away from the dock and began our warmup. The smell of the river and the sounds of the Schuylkill Parkway were comfortably familiar from last year and brought a sense of excitement for me. The first workout was rough, as it was last year, feeling our way in the boat, learning the rhythm, and getting comfortable with each other. We did some power pieces, and the boat picked up nicely. Tom gave us lots of guidance and fine-tuned us as we went, and before I knew it the practice was over and we were putting the boat back on the racks. We were all to meet again at 5:00 at the PRPD (Philadelphia Rowing Program for the Disabled) boathouse for a full team meeting which includes the fixed seat rowers, and the low-down on the camp schedule. I came back to the apartment and spent a few relaxing hours with Russell, organizing my things and getting re-familarized with the area. Sarah came by around 1pm and we went to get coffee and just chat for a while. Sarah is going back to night shift at Penn Hospital, and I was tired. At 5pm we all met, the four, and the fixed seat rowers, Angela and Scott from last year (who will be rowing a double together) and Dale, who is new, who will be rowing a single. Also there were Jimmy and Ryan the other two rowers who will be trying out for the 4th seat in the four. We had a great pep talk from Tom which was inspiring, and brought the gravity and importance of what we are doing in a very short period, to the forefront. Tomorrow we would begin practice in ernest, and every practice, every stroke will be important to be prepared for Worlds.
 
 Tuesday August 5th Oh, my 4:15 still feels like 1:15 when that alarm goes off. Hedda was groggy too, and chose to stay in bed while I got ready to go. Breakfast was out of the question, I wasn't hungry yet. 5:20, Isabel was there to pick us up, and down to the boathouse we went. We got on the water quickly, and Hedda seemed to know that this would be her new routine, she willingly went off with Sandy, and jumped right into the launch. We did a good technical row, lots of drills and on the way back down the river, power pieces. Hedda had everyone in stitches, looking like Nipper the RCA dog every time Tom spoke through the megaphone, cocking her head and looking up the cone. Jennifer met me at Russell's and had a day of adventure planned for me. We went for a tour of QVC, the home shopping network that is located in Chester county. It was enormous! I was exhausted, and was really fading during the tour, so we nixed the rest of the plans and Jennifer brought me back to the apartment for some R&R. Hedda and I fell asleep for a while before heading back to the boathouse at 6pm for the second workout. It was pouring on and off, but we went out anyway. Rowers are tough (grin), and as long as there isn't any lightning, we can row. This brought the water level of the river way up and with that came a lot of floating debris. Potential disasters for our tiny thin-skinned boats. We did lots of drills and technical corrections and the boat continues to feel better and more together. After the row, it was all I could do to feed Hedda, take her out, and get ready for bed, I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.
 
Wednesday August 6th 0600 row again, and today we had Jimmy in the boat, he has a below the knee amputation with a prosthesis like Jennifer. Since they both have to row on starboard, (and we have a starboard-rigged boat) for this row, I was in the 3 seat, rowing port while he tries out for the position. If it turns out that Jimmy is in the boat, they would re-rig the boat to be a port-stroked boat, and I will be back in my regular position of stroke. The boat felt good and strong today, but since there was so much floating debris, we had to keep the power low so if we did collide with something submurged we wouldn't sink the boat. After practice I returned to the apartment, and got caught up with laundry and errands and just relaxed. Carol fixed lunch for Russell and I, and then we spent a couple of hours setting up his hand-held talking note taker/address book. At 4:00 Isabel picked me up early so that I could meet Brian Roman, who heads the Masters Rowing Association. Brian had told Isabel all about a blind rower in California who he had granted permission to, to row a single in the Gold Rush regatta in Sacramento. He said it took a lot of convincing on his part, but the referees for the race finally agreed. It turns out that this blind rower (which Brian thought was a guy) was me! I enjoyed meeting Brian and re-capping event with him, and got an opportunity to thank him for making it possible for me to row that race, and future regattas in a single. It was off to practice, so Hedda and I walked from boathouse #4 toward the Penn AC boathouse, and even though we approached it from the opposite direction, she recognized it and turned right in. Good Girl Hedda! Hugh rowed with us, and we were back in our usual configuration with me in the stroke seat. We worked on power pieces, 2 and 3 minutes at full power. It felt great to push off the foot stretchers, and move the boat along. We all went over to the PRPD boathouse after practice for burgers and dogs, and reviewed the video that had been taken over the past couple days. Tom gave each of us pointers and things to work on for future practices. We didn't get home till after 9 pm, and I was wiped out and ready for sleep again. When I got home Natalia had arrived from California.
 
Thursday August 7th Isabel arrived at our regular 5:20 pick up time, and we stopped to pick up Ryan on the way. Practice consisted of a lot of steady-state rowing, so that Ryan could get used to rowing in a sweep boat, he is a proficient rower in a double (2 oars) , but the team boat (1 oar each) was new to him. It was nice to have an opportunity to row, and think about the changes and pointers that Tom had shared with us last night. By tonight we will know who will be in our boat for Worlds. Natalia and Russell were home when I returned to the apartment, and after keeping Hedda on leash for the past few days wanting to prevent any rough-housing and furniture rearrangement (damage too), Natalia said I should let Hedda go. Well the games began, and haven't quit. There is a continuous sound of thundering paws running through the apartment, making laps through the kitchen and living room, throwing toys, chasing, wrestling and a lot of panting. There is no stopping them now! The 2 shepherds wrestled, played, and took brief naps in between to repolarize, so they could play again throughout the day, while Russell, Natalia and I just relaxed, read and did some work. For the 6 pm workout, Jimmy, the official 4th member of our boat, was there for practice. The boat had been re-rigged, and though I am still in the stroke seat, I am rowing port (right if you are facing backwards, left if forwards), Jennifer is behind me in the 3 seat, Dwayne in the 2 seat, and Jimmy in the bow. This gives some nice balance to the boat, having Jennifer and I rowing opposite sides, and Jimmy and Dwayne rowing opposite sides. The strength and balance will be good. This configuration was completely disorienting to Lisa (coxswain) who sits in the bow, with her back to the rowers, steering our boat down the course. So, throughout the row she kept confusing Dwayne and Jen, Jimmy and Dwayne, and what side of the boat someone was pulling on. We ended up heading in the opposite direction than she intended at times. The balance and power in the boat felt great, and it is very settling to know that this will be the boat configuration for the team. During the practice, our coach, Tom, came across a single rower, who had broken the rigger on his boat, and needed help to transport himself and the boat back to the boathouse. With the tiny toothpick of a boat, they placed it on the launch, and the rower got in too. Hedda handled the extra load well while continuing to keep an eye on our boat. We did lots of drills and power pieces, and really felt the boat coming together well. It drizzled most of the time, but that didn't interfere with practice. Tracy, stroke from last year, met me at the boathouse and we went out to dinner to Frank's Firehouse, a very cool old firehouse that was converted into a restaurant. The best part was the 8 with oars hanging from the ceiling -- I knew I was in the right place. Had ribs, wine and a lot of great conversation! Got home around 9 pm, and talked to Natalia till 11:30 pm (oh my, not like me) while, you guessed it, Hedda and Arlo had another big play session. No practice Friday or Saturday, what am I going to do?!
 
Friday August 8th: Well if I had been keeping up with my journal, I would have realized that it was my mother's birthday. I lost track of day and date, and completely forgot until the 9th. Happy Birthday MOM! We had 2 days off from rowing, and I was at a loss without the twice daily schedule on the water at 6am and 6pm. I actually slept in till 6 am, and Jennifer picked me up at 9 to make the 2.5 hour drive to Hershey PA to take a tour of the chocolate factory. We had lots of time to chat while Hedda snuggled up between us and got her ears scratched. The tour was on a moving ride, like Disneyland's "Its a small world," and we had to enter onto a revolving platform, rotating clockwise, which threw both Hedda and me off balance. The tour went through the whole process of making chocolate from the cocoa beans through to the packaging of the final product of the chocolate bar, complete with a sample at the end, and the overwhelming smell of chocolate throughout the tour. Hedda's favorite part was the animated life-size cow that came within a couple feet of our car. On the trip back to Philadelphia we stopped at an Amish vegetable stand and got peaches, corn and blueberries. We made it back in time for our team dinner at TGI Friday's. It was a great way to get to know each other better, have a lot of laughs, and get even more excited about going to Worlds together. In rowing, the more we bond, the better the teamwork (a lot like a Guide Dog team).
 
Saturday August 9th: I went with Russell and Natalia to their Jujitsu class/gym, and participated in their class. Steve was the instructor, and he was very descriptive, especially after having worked with Russell for so many years. It was a great work out, and I walked back from the gym by myself to meet Jennifer at 10:15 for a day in downtown Philadelphia. We started with a tour of the Franklin Museum, where we had a wonderful demonstration of Franklin's printing press and book binding. From there we ate a genuine Philadelphia soft pretzel with mustard, and then met Marc, Jennifers husband. Our first stop was Abner's, for an incredible Philadelphia cheese steak (there goes the diet!), which fueled us for a 3 hour trip through the University of Pennsylvania Archeology Museum for an exhibit of Etruscan, Greek and Roman artifacts. Marc is an expert on the subject, and did a fantastic job of describing the objects complete with history. I especially love the Etruscan gold granulation jewelery. Russell, Natalia, Jamie and I had a lobster dinner, as a final farewell, before they leave for California Sunday morning. Wow, what a meal. I don't want to step on Russell's talking scale right now!
 
Sunday August 10: Back on the water again! Isabel arrived at 5:20 for our 5:45 row. The traffic was light since it was the weekend. The team was ready to row after having 2 days off. We hit the workout hard with lots of 5 minute pieces at full power, and practicing starts (getting the boat to full speed from a complete standstill in the water) . It was a hard workout and it felt great to put it all out. All my spinning classes, weights and interval work sure paid off! Thank you Holly! Hedda is finding the hard workouts, with lots of yelling and intensity in the boat, stressful. She is worried about me, so she may have to start sitting it out on the sidelines with Isabel. After practice I came back to the apartment for a quick shower, and Jennifer arrived at 10:00 for another great day on the town. We went to the Eastern State Penitentiary (which closed in 1970). The facility opened in 1829, and revolutionized the penal system throughout the world. Al Capone's cell is preserved, as well as other famous criminals. The tour guide, Melissa, gave an outstanding tour. The place was so fascinating, we spent several hours there, and followed it with a late lunch (early dinner). Practice started at 6, and we continued with starts and long power pieces. It was questionable whether we could stay out on the water for a full practice since the water level was high from all the rains. There were lots of floating objects, like shovels, logs etc. We did make it through a full practice, and by the end of the workout we were all spent, and I know I was ready to crawl right into bed. Hedda had worn herself out worrying about me, ate her dinner, and jumped right into bed.
 
 Monday August 11 I know I have adjusted to the time change because I am now waking up at 3:30 am again, which is my routine in California. The apartment is quiet except for the ambient background drone of the city noises muffled by the well insulated walls and windows. I have blisters on my hands, and some aching in my muscles which is exagerated when I first awaken. This is why I brought the Costco size bottle of Advil and a roll of wet proof tape. The 6 am workout began with our regular warmup drills, and then right into starts and power to get the boat moving at full speed. Then starts with power pieces for 5 minutes. These came back-to-back with little recovery time, all at full power. As we tired, it became harder to keep it together and maintain good technique. We ended the workout with a good piece, which set the tone for a good workout in the afternoon. It was clear to Tom, Sandy and me that Hedda was too anxious watching the increased power in the boat, and she would be better off waiting with Isabel at the boathouse. She was worried about me with all those blades a flying, and yelling from the coach and coxswain, either that or she was barking commands for us to work harder. After 3 hard workouts in a row, I was tired, and so was Hedda. We spent the time between the morning and afternoon workouts at the apartment, Hedda asleep on the bed 90% of the time, while I worked on the computer, ate and even took a little dog nap with her. We started practice at 4:45 so that Jimmy could get to his final championship basketball game at 7:30. I don't know how he had the energy to play basketball after these practices. We were also met by the Channel 6 News team, who will air a story about our team on Saturday at 7pm. The cameraman came out on the launch with Tom which was a good time to begin leaving Hedda on shore with Isabel to sit it out. The afternoon practice focused on good steady-state rowing, feeling the swing of the boat, and maintaining good rowing technique for long periods of time. The row got cut short by 10 minutes at the first clap of thunder and lightning, the river in a little wooden boat is no place to be in the thunderstorm. By the time we docked, the storm had blown by. Isabel brought me home, and I was too tired to eat, I checked in with Larry, and went right to bed.
 
Tuesday August 12 I started my day with coffee, Advil and wrapping my thumbs with tape so I could be ready for another morning workout. Hedda stayed with Isabel, and we pushed away from the dock. It was a little cooler this morning, but the humidity remains high. We rowed out with a warmup in pairs, and then started in with all four rowers. The boat is swinging together more now, and it is starting to feel good. Our first long piece felt strong and together, real teamwork. With little rest we moved right into the second long piece. This time our exhaustion overwhelmed the boat and it was difficult to maintain the rhythm, we knew it, and that is part of the learning process of perfecting the dance. After practice I returned to the apartment, quickly got cleaned and changed to be ready for a trip with Jennifer to the Brandywine River Museum (Wyeth museum) in Chadds Ford PA. We met Dawn, a friend of Jennifers that works at the museum. Dawn gave us an in-depth detailed tour of the museum, including the history of the building, area and the Wyeth family. I have always been a great fan of both N.C. and Andrew, and have clear memories of images from their books that I had poured over prior to losing my sight. Dawn brought the people and images alive with her deep knowledge and appreciation for the museum and the artists. I became immersed in the extraordinary setting of the museum. You enter the museum through a courtyard with fragrant wildflowers and the texture of cobblestones which lead to brick stairs that extend into the building and pave the entire museum including the elevator. I could picture the Brandywine river view from the floor-to-ceiling (3 story) windows and felt the massive beams from the ancent barn that had been transformed into the museum. It was a marriage of seasoned history and modern archetecture that reflected the beauty of the area like Wyeth's paintings. It was the closest thing to actually seeing the paintings for myself. We returned to the apartment in time to change my clothes and get picked up for practice. The electricity had been out in the building since 11am and without air conditioning the apartment had gotten very hot. I was glad to leave for rowing, and was hoping it was fixed by the time I returned. Isabel joined Tom in the launch to watch our rowing while Sandy stayed back to be the Hedda sitter. We concentrated on technique again, giving us a break from power pieces. We focused on starts, catches and releases. Teamwork and technique are essential, and something that can be a lifelong endeavor for the individual rower as well as a team. I returned to a cool comfortable apartment!
 
Wednesday August 13: Today we did two full 1000-meter pieces for time. We started with a warmup, and in the heat and humidity, it didn't take long to feel pretty hot and sweaty! With the anxiety of being timed, and projecting our thoughts to the Worlds ahead, we had difficulty in the first piece. We couldn't harness our concentration and translate it to coordinating our strokes. We ended the piece exhausted, but knowing what we needed to do for the next 1000 meters. Tom lightened the mood by having each of us tell a joke. We all took turns telling groaners, and Tom topped it off with the worst joke of all; he should stick to coaching, he wouldn't make it as a standup comedian! We turned the boat around and sat ready for the second piece. The count down 5,4,3,2,1, ready, row. We pressed through our start, bringing the boat quickly up to speed, 15 quick strokes, and we settled into our race pace. We were together! It felt extraordinary, our bodies all swinging together, blades coming in and out of the water together, and feeling the boat bullet through the water. All I could hear was the click of the oars in the oar locks in unison, the entry and exit of the blades, and the water washing past the boat. Lisa's voice resounded through, periodically calling our location in the race course and inspiring us through the piece. We had it, and kept it for 1000 meters, right through to a strong finish. When we got back to the dock, our spirits were high. We have a break from the evening practice, and will begin again tomorrow morning. After practice I joined Lisa for a girl's day of shopping. We had to fuel up after we went to her house to get cleaned up, so we started with breakfast out. We then went to the King of Prussia Mall, second largest in the US, and worked our way around, shopping, laughing and having a great time. Hedda loved the fountains, just like her friend Deanne, and we had to stop so she could check them out. We shopped, ate and had a lot of laughs until 4:30, when I returned to the apartment. Hedda was ready to play with her new toys, she had to do some shopping too. The break felt great, and I will be ready to get back in the boat again tomorrow. Thursday August 14 We all came back refreshed and ready to row. We spent most of the workout on starts, transitioning into getting the boat up to speed in the first 15 strokes, and then into the race pace (slowing down the stroke, but keeping the power strong). So after our warmup, we did many combinations of starts and transitions with 20, 30 or more strokes at different speeds and intensities, then bringing it back up for what would be a finish to the race. These transitions will be important during the race so we don't waste any energy. After practice I came back to the apartment, quickly got cleaned up and Jennifer met me at 9:30. Isabel had arranged for a special docent-led tour for me at the Philadelphia Art Museum for people who are blind. Stephanie Zimmerman from the museum took us around to specially designated pieces in the museum that I could touch. They designed the tour to cover sculpture representing different periods of time. Beginning with early Indian art, Asian art, early and late European art, and ending with Rodin, and a modern (1980's) geometric stainless steel piece. It was exciting for me to be able to appreciate what is usually strictly a visually oriented experience at an art museum. Afterwards we went for a tour of Longwood Gardens, a du Pont owned property that is about 800 acres of manicured gardens and one of the largest greenhouses in the world. We met Eileen who worked there, and she told us the history of the gardens, and gave us some pointers on where we should visit. There are huge fountains, which pleased Hedda, but due to the heat we couldn't spend a lot of time there since the black top was too much for Hedda's feet. My favorite were the orchids, some were exotically fragrent. We returned in time for the evening practice. This was the hottest and most humid day I have experienced since I have been here, and it was hard to believe we were going to be able to practice. It was like a steam room. Tom said we would have a shorter practice, but we would work hard and spend all our energy efficiently. Well we spent it all right! We did 2 very hard pieces after "warming up". and I thought after the first 1000 meters that I would expire! We barely had time to catch our breath, and we were on the second 1000 meters. I was sweating so much the oar was slipping in my hands, I could barely hold on to it. I love heat but this humidity is ridiculous! We all made it through the practice, and could barely lift the boat out of the water, It actually felt good when we lifted the boat overhead, and some of that Schuylkill water dumped on our heads. We put the boat away and collapsed on the cool (ish) cement floor of the boathouse. Jenn and I dragged ourselves up the stairs to wipe the sweat off of our bodies, change our clothes and get ready to go out for a team sushi dinner. It tasted great, and we all enjoyed the air-conditioned restaurant.
 
 Friday August 15 With a limited number of practices left, the intensity of the workouts has increased logarhythmically. At 5am it was already 80 degrees, and you guessed it, the humidity about 99%. We quickly got warmed up and since we would have a break from the evening practice, and Saturday off, the practice was a bruiser. Every stroke counts now for our performance together at race pace. We did six 1000 meter pieces! Tom was smart, and didn't let on how many of these we were going to do, so when we had to turn the boat around and head back for #5 and 6, Tom must have gotten some ugly looks! This was our toughest workout yet, and I felt a lot of pressure to set the right pace, keep the rhythm of the boat, and never let off, not even for one stroke. All I could think of was Milan and that we were going to be representing the US. Even at the state of exhaustion when we would finish a piece, I had to recover, and pour it all on for the next one. If I were to slack off, that would set the tone for the boat. At the end of practice, I felt spent, but proud that I had given it my all. We have a day and a half to recover, and get ready for some more hard workouts in the short time we have left before we leave on Wednesday. Jennifer picked me up at the apartment and we headed up to Herr's (a potato chip and snack food company), where she works, so I could visit with some of the people I had met last year, and say hi to a few new people. Hedda of course was the big attraction, everyone had heard about her, and she was like a little celebrity. Jennifer picked up snacks for our team. From there we went to another du Pont property, Winterthur, a 1000-acre estate that has natural gardens, and a mansion with 175 rooms that are preservations and examples of American architecture from the 1700's through the early 1900's, all adorned with furniture and objects that were representative of the time periods. It is an amazing collection of Americana. Jennifer's friend Sara Willaby arranged for a hands-on tour and a tram tour of the estate. I learned a lot of subtle signature differences, for example how to distinguish where a piece of furniture had been made by claw/ball style feet. The shape of the ball and claw identifes whether it was made in New York, Boston or Philadelphia. It was an amazing place that I would want to visit again and spend more time. We came back to Philadelphia to feed Hedda and meet Marc and Sarah and some of her friends from Penn Hospital for sushi dinner. I love sushi, and this was an all-you-could eat place, no limits! I was ready for bed by the time we returned to the apartment at 9pm. Throughout the day I felt like a narcoleptic, falling asleep in the car periodically, and on the tram ride at Winterthur. Am sure glad we get a break tomorrow!
 
 Saturday August 16 Oh boy. I didn't have to hear the alarm go off this morning, and I awoke to little kisses by Hedda who wanted her breakfast at 5:00 am. Aymii, who lives in Connecticut, arrived at 10:00 am. Aymii and I use to row together in Petaluma at North Bay Rowing Club. I hadn't told her about the apartment, so when she arrived, she was blown away by the place and the view. She thought I was staying in a dorm, and she would be sleeping in a bunk bed. We spent some time catching up, and when Jennifer arrived at 11:00, we went directly to Boathouse Row; where else would a rower want to go! We walked up and down looking at the boathouses, and she took lots of photos. From there we went to Center City to meet Marc. It was raining lightly, which it continued to do throughout the day. We went to a fantastic Italian restaurant and we all enjoyed salads, and the ambience put me in the mood for next week! We went from the restaurant to the Kimmel Center for the performing arts, home of the Philadelphia Symphony. Wow, was that spectacular! The building has incredible architecture, primarily beautiful wood, glass and metal. There are 2 buildings housed inside one large building, one for the symphony orchestra and the other for performances. I would love to come back to hear the symphony. To further the Italian mood we stopped for gelato, and then walked it off at the Reading market, which was the old train terminal turned into an indoor farmers market. Aymii and I returned to the apartment, and plotzed in front of the TV. The program that had been filmed on Dwayne and the team aired at 7:30, and there were lots of shots of the team rowing. It was very well done, and fun for Aymii to see us rowing. We hit the pillows at 8:30 so that we could get up early for me to row and Aymii to return home. Sunday August 17th Aymii followed Isabel to boathouse row so that she could meet the team and watch us push away from the dock. Tom had us jump right into the workout with gusto! I woke up with a headache, and it was all I could do to keep up. We did lots of power pieces, starts, and no rest in between. By the time we got back to the docks I couldn't believe I had made it through the workout. Our package from US Rowing arrived, so we walked down to Isabel's office to pick up the gear. Nike provided the gear for the National Team this year. We got rowing shorts with the team logo, a polo shirt, 2 t-shirts, a jacket, warmup pants, short- and long-sleeve workout shirts, shoes, and flip-flops, a unisuit for racing, backpack and duffel. The logo is an embroidered crest of red and white stripes with crossed oars, very cool! I had time to sleep and relax before Jennifer picked me up at noon for a gathering at Sarah's new house. Jennifer and Sarah made a huge spread, and BBQ'd spareribs and chicken. It was a great homemade meal. I got to meet their long-time friends Rick, Maureen and daughter Shannon. Hedda enjoyed running around Sarah's house. I got back to the boathouse just in time for the 6pm practice. There was a big event called Unity Day being held by the art museum, which caused a lot of traffic. The PM row was no lighter than the morning, and I thought I was going to toss my cookies! We did 10-minute pieces at full power in the heat and humidity. Whew, I feel like I am ready for Milan and the temperatures there now. I couldn't wait to go to bed when I returned to the apartment, and hope that the headache is gone tomorrow. Monday August 18th Well the headache is on its way out, and certainly more tolerable now. We had another hard workout with lots of starts and power pieces with high ratings -- 32, 34, even up to 36 strokes per minute. The boat is really moving now, and swinging together. I can't believe how far we have come in such a short amount of time. I think Tom is pleased as well. After practice I gathered Hedda's medical information and Jennifer took me to the local veterinarian for her appointment to get her Italian Health Certificate, and USDA certification. We have all the paperwork set, and she is ready to go. Hedda was her usual good self, and the vet was astonished how well she behaved. She is used to pet dogs that don't hold still. After that we went to get lunch at an incredible Italian restaurant, where I had a spinach salad, mmm good! I rested during the afternoon, and started packing for Wednesday. At the evening practice, we worked shorter than our normal 2 hours, so that we could go to our send-off party at PRPD. So we didn't waste any time or cut any corners for a hard workout. We were all sweating it and breathing hard at the end, quickly changed into our new polos for the party, and took off for PRPD, which is on the other side of the Schuylkill. There were at least 80 people at the party; sponsors, rowers, friends and family. Mom and Jennifer were there waiting for us. Hedda was happy to see her Nana. It really made me excited about the next phase of this rowing adventure. Lots of food, drink, fun and anticipation of the upcoming Worlds. A great photo op too. Hedda was introduced as my Guide Dog and team mascot. We cut out around 8:45, since mom had been traveling all day, and I had one more practice tomorrow morning. When we returned to the apartment we got to have a visit with Mary Alice, a friend who lives in the building, and I had become good friends with during last year's visit. It was great fun to catch up with her, and introduce her to mom. It was 11pm before I got to sleep. Hedda got a pillow prize, a violin stuffed toy, that plays minuet in G, over, and over, and over again!
 
Tuesday August 19 This was the last row before we leave for Milan. I was sad to have the training time on the Schuylkill over, and excited to be moving on to phase 2 of the trip. We got out on the water quickly, and had a short but hard workout. We did some 3 minute pieces and practiced more starts. We were all pretty tired from the last few days of hard workouts, but also feeling like we are ready to go to Milan. The gravity of what we were about to do cast a quiet nervousness over the boat. Tom gave us a pep talk about traveling, and practicing in Milan before the events. After we got off the water we put the boat on slings and gave her a good cleaning. We put her away for the last time, and did a group hug before we scattered for the day. I returned to the apartment to find mom up and about. Jennifer came and took us to breakfast in South Philadelphia at the Melrose Diner, a true diner right out of the 50's, where you share a booth with strangers. From there we went to the Betsy Ross house, and then for my massage appointment. The timing was perfect after all the hard training, and I came out relaxed and ready for a nap. I went back to the apartment and mom and Jennifer went off sight- seeing. In the evening we met Marc, and ate a Philly cheese steak and toured the city.
 
Wednesday August 20th: Well today is the departure day. I got up at 3am and started packing. Russell returned from California at 6:30am, and immediately left for his Jujitsu workout. He leaves for Worlds in Brazil on Monday. We will all meet at the Adams Mark Hotel to get a bus to Newark for our flight to Milan. From this point forward I will be keeping the journal on my tape recorder, and whenever I can find an internet cafe, and a willing sighted person I will update my site. For continuous updates on our progress check the PRPD web site. Wednesday, August 20th Got all packed and said my goodbyes to Russell. Jennifer met us at the apartment and drove us out to the Adam's Mark Hotel where we met the rest of the team. There were a lot of family and freinds there to send us off. The adventure began with a crazy driver that continually jerked on the wheel, stomped on the gas and slammed on the brakes while drinking an unknown substance out of a McDonald's cup. We were all carsick by the time we got to Newark Airport. Check-in and security was a snap. Just before boarding, the person in charge of the flight called to tell me that Hedda did not have clearance to go on the plane. I brought out my plethora of paperwork from the USDA and veterinary clearance from the Italian Consulate and a phone call was made to Milan. Mom's bags were pulled off the plane just in case Hedda was not given clearance to fly. The plane was completely boarded and at the 11th hour, we were given clearance to board. The seat next to me was empty, so Hedda and I had two seats. So, after everyone else was asleep, I spread the blanket on the seat and Hedda and I took a nap under the second blanket. The flight was uneventful and we landed in Milan at 8:30 am Milan time. Customs was a breeze and there were no additional problems. Hedda was very happy to find a spot to relieve herself and we all boarded the special bus to take the team to the Quark hotel which was a 30 minute ride.
 
Thursay, August 21st We were thrilled to find that the rooms at the Quark Hotel were far more luxurious than the accomodations in Seville last year. Mom and I each have our own bedroom and bathroom. Hedda and I are sharing a king size bed. Met up with the rest of the team since Scott, Jimmy and Sandy were on another flight. We were thrilled to discover that lunch was edible which consisted of two types of pasta, salmon, salad, Italian rolls and water with or without gas. We went over to the venue on buses provided by FISA that run every half hour to gain our accreditation passes for access to the venue. Hedda even got her own photo ID. The course is a beautiful lake that is the largest manmade lake in Italy that was built in the 1920s for sea planes to practice landing and takeoff. It is an unusual color of aquamarine like the patina of aged copper. We also got a look at the brand new 4+ Filippe boat that was being provided by the Italian team. The lake is surrounded by a pine forest which smells great in the baking hot sun. We met up with our friends Russ and Terry from Concept 2 and had a big reunion. Returned to the hotel and had a similar dinner to what they provided at lunch and all took off for an early bedtime.
 
 Friday, August 22nd Met Sarah and Danika from the US team and they invited me to join them for breakfast. Hedda is quickly becoming the mascot for not only the adaptive team, but the whole US team. We went down to the venue and still didn't know which boat the Italians were going to let us use, as they wanted to row all of the 4+ boats to determinarion. So Tom sent us back to the hotel to set in air conditioning rather than wait around and bake in the midday sun. Took a nap and reboarded the buses around 6:30 pm and were able to go out for a brief row. We were able to make some adjustments and take it around a quick spin at the lake before catching the last bus back to the hotel. We made it back in time to eat dinner and flop into bed.
 
Saturday, August 23rd We met for breakfast at 8:15 and after our continental breakfast, we decided to roll and walk to the local supermarket to stock up on water and snacks. We were quite a spectacle wtih wheels, fake legs, and guide dogs. But that didn't scare off the beggars asking for money. We came back to the hotel with 6 six-packs of water bottles which all totalled was about 150 pounds of water. Went to the venue and had our first real workout at about 1:30 and it was unbelievably hot with no wind and the sun reflecting off the water with the full sun baking us at about 98 degrees for an hour and a half. We were able to do power pieces and starts but after that were all spent and completely red- faced. Our only relief was to run to the restrooms and stick our heads under the faucets with ice cold water. Sandy and Scott made an appointment to have playtime with a very tired Hedda. Then had time to get on the computer with Sandy and her wireless computer to dictate these journal entries. Went to dinner at the first opportunity at 7:30. After dinner, Sara and Jennifer came over to have their moments with Hedda who was a little more lively after sleeping on the cold floor at dinner. After her relieving session, we met several members of the US team that wanted to schedule "blood pressure relieving" sessions with Hedda.
 
Sunday, August 24th Today was the official opening of the 2003 World Rowing Championships. Had breakfast with our competitors, the Australian team. Ben was on their team last year and he and I corresponded throughout the year. Ben got his first guide dog after reading my training journal with Hedda and he is missing his guide dog, Edward and needed a Hedda fix. Went down to the venue at 10:00 so we could watch some of the time trials and check out the New Wave T-shirt stand. Got on the water for practice 1:30 and it was just as hot as yesterday. We were smart this time and stuck our heads under the cold water before going for our row. The boat is coming together nicely and we had a good, strong practice. We went right back to the faucets yet again before getting on a thankfully air-conditioned bus for the ride back to the hotel.
 
Monday, August 25th This is our one day to see Milan. So Jen and mom and I got a taxi at 9:30 am to the Duomo and La Scala. The Duomo is the third largest gothic cathedral and La Scala was under renovation so we were unable to get in. We walked through the galleria which is an ancient glass covered mall with high-end stores and lots of cafes. We did a little shopping and that included a few Cuban cigars for Larry. Mom found some souvenirs and postcards to send home. We continued to look for places to shop, however many places were closed as August is a vacation month for many Europeans. We eventually wore ourselves out and had lunch at an outdoor cafe where I had one of my best meals - fresh tomato, basil and mozarella salad. Mom had a margarita pizza. Jen had a vegetarian pasta. Coincidentally the rest of the team showed up and joined us for lunch. After lunch, more shopping. We were exhausted and headed back to the hotel. Came back, joined Scott and Sandy and went grocery shopping. Loaded Scott up with at least 10 gallons of water to carry home. I really missed rowing, it just didn't feel like a complete day without practice.
 
Tuesday, August 26th Got up and had a fun breakfast with the Australians - getting to really be chummy with the competition. Went over to the venue at 10:00. We took a shuttle over to the grandstands and got to check out some of the other vendors and had a little bite to eat. Got the shuttle back in time for our 3:20 practice. And it wasn't quite as warm today - only 92 degrees. Had a good but short practice and did two runs of the 2000 meter course. Could hear some of the other boats out on the course. At one point I heard a boat in so much sync, I became scared and then realized it was a quad from the regular team. Caught the 5:00 bus back to the hotel and had a team meeting to cover the race plan for the next few days. Then our nightly snacktime before dinner in 008. A little playtime out in the lobby with Hedda - everyone loves Hedda.
 
Wednesday, August 27th Was awakened at 3:00 am with a raging sore throat. Found a pack of mom's butterrum lifesavers and they were a lifesaver! Went back to bed and got to have my morning call with Larry to catch up what is happening in California. The whole team met at 8:00 for breakfast so we could have a pow-wow about the FISA adaptive Q&A. Took the 9 am bus so we could attend the 10 am meeting. The meeting was upstairs in the gymnasium and the temperature was already 92 degrees outside and 102 inside as there is no such thing as air conditioning inside! The FISA meeting went long with many questions about the future of adaptive rowing, worlds and the eventual 2008 paralympics. The conclusion was that there will be another meeting to discuss the questions pertinent to the current event. Classification for disabilites followed the meeting and since those of us who rowed last year had already been classified we were free to go. For more detailed info of classification, see my link on my home page. Spent some time schmoozing with the US team and then went over to the Concept2 tent to stay cool and hang out with the great folks at Concept2. Practice was from 2:00 to 3:30 and it was a scorcher. We did some strong short pieces and concluded the workout a little early so we could clean and weight our boat with the rest of the crews. The weighing is done so that the boats will be equalized in weight so the heaviest boat will determine how much weight to add to all boats. After getting the boat back up on the racks, we loaded onto the 4:00 bus and returned to the hotel. Ben from the Australian team made an appointment to see Hedda as he was missing his guide dog Edward and needed a little play session. At 6:30 Jen and I went to the US team doctor's room to get Claritin, nasal spray and throat lozenges. Had another great dinner of pasta with sausage and salad. Yes you heard me right, I ate pasta. Again. No holds barred in the diet. I haven't braved the scale yet and I would need some one to read it to me and then convert from kilograms to pounds. Got an opportunity to meet and chat with Gavin White, Temple University's head rowing coach and US team coach. He became my new best friend when he guessed my age at 27. I better stop eating pasta and go to bed now in order to maintain the young look.
 
Thursday, August 28th Woke up to Hedda sprawled across both pillows with her head across my face and her tail wagging against the wall. Got my 6 am morning call from Larry to start my day. Breakfast was in a different room this morning but consisted of the same great goodies: croissants, etc and of course the infamous espresso, capuccino machine. After breakfast, Jen, Mom, Scott and I went to the grocery store to pick up some goodies and some specialities to bring home. Poor Scott probably regretted going on a shopping trip with three women. He voluntarily agreed to be our sherpa for the trip. We had lunch in the hotel - which is only the second time since we've been here and our training time and lunch were coordinated. The Worlds are now being shown on EuroSport television and it was fun to watch the rowing event on our own TV. We took the 2:00 bus to the venue and the anxiety level is really starting to build. All the adaptive boats went out on the water from 3-4:30 and we got to practice a couple 1000 meter pieces in preparation for tomorrow. Just writing this has brought my blood pressure up a few notches. Hedda is doing double time now as people as the regular team and the adaptive team are participating in races - she's the official blood pressure reduction dog. During practice as FISA had requested, Tom took Hedda to the medals platform because Jose from FISA wants her at the medal WHEN we get a medal. The report from Tom was that she loved the medals platform and we have to place so we can go there again. The onlookers thought she was a bomb sniffing dog! Or perhaps it was drugs! We got back to the hotel and had our evening snackage party and met at 7:10 with Tom to go over the race plan for the time trials tomorrow. After a year of training and three and a half weeks of practice with our team, I can't believe that the time trials and finals are almost here. Sarah joined us for dinner and it was pizza night. Should go to bed early so I can be rested for tomorrow.
 
 Friday, August 29th I took Hedda out for her first relieving time, to discover it was very windy, and had the smell of rain in the air. It was a quiet breakfast with the thoughts of the impending time trials coming up at 3pm. We are to take the 12pm bus to the venue. The worlds are now being broadcast on TV on Eurosport, and began at 9:30am. I spent some time listening to the events, and organized what I needed to bring for the afternoon. They kept broadcasting on the increasing wind, and the unpredictable nature of the gusts. Today was not the time to forget essentials like water, tape, hat, sun screen etc. I practiced calming techniques and visualized the race going perfectly in my mind. Jen and I found a quiet shady place under the trees behind the US tent and stretched and attempted to relax. As the wind increased in intensity, so did my anxiety. This boat had never practiced in anything but calm conditions. At 2:15, after multiple trips to the bathroom, it was time to put the boat on the water. This is difficult to do in high winds, since the boat acts like a very big sail. We had to keep a tight grip on the boat as we walked it down the steep ramp to the boat dock. We spent some time warming up, and in the high winds the boat was much more unstable, and it was difficult for the boat to all get good strokes in together. The time trials were set up in lanes 0 and 2, with each boat being sent off at 1 minute intervals, alternating lanes. It was good for our boat to have to handle all the fine adjustments before the race under pressure in preparation for the final race tomorrow. Lisa brought us up to the line, and we were on the clock. I rowed my heart out, and with all my experience on SF Bay and open water rowing, I didn't find the conditions to be a problem, however it was rough rowing for the rest of the boat, who weren't use to these kind of elements. We finished the time trial in 4th place, and with about 30 seconds between us and the first boat, Australia. I was worried about the finals, would there be wind again? If so I wasn't too confident about our performance. We put the boat away along with the oars, and headed back to the hotel. After dinner we (the 4) met in my room with Tom. He gave us a great pep talk, and inspired determination for the finals tomorrow. Saturday, August 30th I was awake at 3am thinking about the race, listening for any sounds of wind outside. Larry called at 6am to wish us luck. When I took Hedda out, I was thrilled to discover still air and the report at breakfast was that there wasn't a cloud in the sky. That was a great relief, we have an opportunity to really show our stuff today. I went back to the room to get everything Hedda and I would need for the day and loaded the 9am bus with the rest of the team. Our race is at 12:50, followed by the doubles race and then the singles race. I did lots of stretching and calming techniques to keep myself centered for the race. We took the boat down to the water at 12:15, got in the boat, and pushed off the dock one last, important time. Lisa had us do our regular warm ups in pairs, then all 4 with power pieces at varying stroke rates. It felt good, strong and together! All of the work I have done in the last 9 months in preparation for this day flashed through my mind. The anxiety of a race always allows me to push myself beyond what I normally do. Lisa brought us up to the line where we had our place in lane 5. I didn't hear anything except what Lisa was saying, and the next thing I knew the race was on. We did an explosive strong start, moving into 15 fast power strokes to get momentum on the boat. We were in 2nd place for the first 500 meters of the 1000 meter race. I felt strong, and so did the boat. At 500 meters we did another power piece bringing the rating to a 38, then attempting to settle to our race pace which is usually 32. In the intensity of the moment, I wasn't able to bring the boat down too much, and our pace remained pretty high, probably a 34 or 36. At the 750 mark we were in 3rd place, and ready for our final push to the finish. In our final power 15 to the finish, Lisa started screaming for the starboard rowers to put on power, something terrable was happening to our boat, the set and stroke rate of the boat was off, and Lisa screamed that we were no longer in our lane. I could feel the boat list to starboard, and we pull the boat with difficulty across the line in 4th place. For a few minutes I couldn't catch my breath, and we were all stunned at the turn of events in the last 10 stroks of the race. It was painful to hear the announcer call Australia, Netherlands and Portugal to the medals stand, while we rowed the boat back to the dock. I couldn't hold back my tears, and was glad that no one could see me. As I was rowing back, I re-played the race in my mind, and realized that I had rowed my best and given it my all (and more) and that is all I could have done. I then thought of all the athletes on the rest of our US team that have trained full time, and commited their lives to rowing for the National Team, that didn't come home with a medal or even making the Olympic team for next year. This perspective helped me put my dissapointment in its place. The competition for the adaptive rowing is increasing, and that is the goal. If we had won just because we participated, the medal wouldn't hold the same value of accomplishment. The 4 sat on the dock in silence, and listened to the medals ceremony. We congratulated the winners when they returned to the dock. After the event FISA held a reception for all of the adaptive rowers, and presented certificates to all the athletes. Hedda guided me up to receive our certificate, and a bone for Hedda. She was more interested in the bone than guiding me back to the chair, so I went sighted guide. After the ceremony, there was a reception where the athletes traded shirts, uni-suits etc with the other countries. I traded a couple US t-shirts for an Austrailian polo and hat. Then the commission had a boat that was built for Fillippi (Italian shell maker) that held 24 rowers. This is not a typo. They picked 2 rowers from each country to row the boat, and it took 1/2 hour to fill it. We rowed around the lake a couple times, and the speed was amazing, I was hoping we wouldn't need to make any quick stops! After returning to the hotel, Sandy had organzied a team dinner at a local pizza place, and we walked there as a group. It was a great way to end the month long experience together, with amazing food and a bottle of wine! It was the journey that I will remember with fondness. The amazing people who are all dealing with obsticles, coming together for a month as a team to row for our country. I will cherish the concentrated time and efforts we spent together. Tomorrow we fly to Newark, Monday to SF, and Wednesday I will return to work. I stayed up till 11pm packing, and discovering the exhausted sore muscles that I had, that had been masked by the excitement of the race. Sunday, August 30th We had our last breakfast at the hotel. I will miss the cappichino machine. We all met with our luggage at 6:50 in the lobby for a 7am departure on the airporter bus. Tom went back to check on Dwayne and Bertha, since they weren't at the bus. He called their room, and checked the lobby. The bus was on a schedule, and unfortunately pulled away without Dwayne and Bertha at 7:07. We all worried, and hoped they would make it to the airport in time for the flight at 10:30am. I sat with Leanne, who rows a pair for the national team, and the 3/4 hour bus ride went quickly. Leanne's boat will go to the Olympics next year in Greece. Check-in at the airport went well, and there was no problems with the dog. We were all relieved to find Bertha and Dwayne at the gate waiting for the plane. They caught a cab. The seat next to me was blocked, and Jen was on the other side of the empty seat, which gave us a chance to talk for the flight home. When we got to Newark, the line to go through customs was enormous, and I was worried about Hedda, who hadn't relieved for almost 12 hours. So, when the customs agent came up to me to ask if I needed assistance I told him about her delema and asked if he could help us move quicker through the line. The next thing I knew Tom and I were following him right through the line, got waved though by the police, and we were out the front door in less than 2 minutes! Hedda relieved, and we were all happy! I brought her food and water so I was able to give them to her right away. Happy shepherd! We all came together as a group one last time before we all dispursed. It was difficult to say good-bye to everyone. It feels somewhat like graduation at Guide Dog class, where we cultivated very close friendships, and suddenly it is over. Mom and I caught the shuttle to the Airport Wyndham to spend the night, and give Hedda a break from travel, before doing the cross country leg of our trip home. Monday, September 1st I woke up at 12:30am (which would be 9:30am Milan time), and couldn't sleep for the rest of the night. We left for the airport at 5am and boarded the flight at 7am. I again got a seat with another blocked next to me for Hedda. On the other side of her was a gentleman, Paul, who is from Marin County. He had just dropped his son off at Rutgers College (Where Tom coaches rowing). We had a great time chatting on the flight to SF, which made the time go by quickly. When we landed, Larry was there to meet us. Hedda seemed to know we were home, when she looked out the window of the airplane, and shot like a cannon out of the plane. She exploded with excitement of seeing Larry again (me too). I am already thinking about next year! I will take a week to recover, and then jump back into training. Look out Australia, this has only inspired me to want to win the gold even more!

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